DAY 17: Pack your curiosity: finding new resources
Pack your curiosity: finding new resources
This week we’re talking about what it means to live in “active recovery.”
Certainly, to really and truly take ownership of our recovery we’re going to need to make different choices. But we’re also going to need to embrace that much-overused phrase “lifestyle change.”
You’re rolling your eyes, aren’t you? Oh, wait, that was me.
Lifestyle change is one of the most ubiquitous terms in our modern lexicon. Typically advice gurus tell us to “take baby steps,” that is, make small changes when they dole out their lifestyle change tips. I’ll buy that if what we’re talking about is establishing an exercise habit or reducing our family credit card debt, but when we’re talking about recovering from an addiction, small changes offer too many opportunities to slip right back into active addiction.
Living in active recovery means living differently.
For most of us that’s going to mean doing much more cooking at home, packing meals and snacks rather than stopping for a quick pick-me-up or tide-me-over at Starbucks or the Mini-Mart.
Goodness knows it’s much easier for me to make good food choices when I’ve done my meal prep than when I’m flying by the seat of my pants. More than likely it will mean exploring new retail or online stores and venturing into restaurants that might not have been on our radar before. (And hopefully taking some old familiar ones off the radar because we now recognize that the unhealthy, hyper-palatable foods on their menus are akin to playing with fire.)
So yes, all of those lifestyle changes are important as we move into active recovery.
But there are three bigger lifestyle changes that will require us to bring our curiosity to our recovery. They are:
- Start to delegate.
You’re all do-ers, I know you are. You carry a lot of responsibility in your lives and you get shit done. Me too.Where we run into problems is when we carry an unhealthy load on our shoulders without the support we need to be successful.Let me share with you an example: I’ve mentioned, I have four kids. Three of them are now adults, living on their own. Somehow they’ve learned to do their own laundry and make their beds. When they were little I tried to engage them in learning to do some simple tasks around the house but, being kids, they didn’t want to do them. In the times I put my foot down and insist that they do them, they often did them so badly that I had to swoop in behind them and do it myself. I was operating on few emotional resources at the time and I simply couldn’t cope when they’d complain or procrastinate. So I just did the chores for them. And they skated.My failure to delegate to them meant that I ended up having to do all the work myself, and you can bet I resented it. (As a side note, this is exactly why I don’t judge other people’s parenting. I sure as shit didn’t do it perfectly, but I did the best I could with the skills I had at the time. I try to extend that assumption to others as well.)
In our own life in recovery we need to learn to delegate some tasks that get in the way of healing.
Let your husband or wife do some of the meal prep or shopping. Rely on healthy convenience foods because they make it easier to throw together a quick 28 Days meal-plan-approved meal on the fly.
It may be a tad more expensive to buy broccoli in the ready-to-steam bag than it is to cut up your own, but if delegating that job means that you’re more likely to eat the damn broccoli than to go through the drive-thru on the way home from work, then it’s totally worth it.
- Embrace a problem-solving mindset to avoid feeling deprived.
If we approach new challenges with curiosity (i.e. “How can I make this work for my family and me?”), as opposed to a mindset of deprivation and struggle, we’re sure to find solutions instead of feeling frustrated and resentful.Resentment and self-pity are the path to relapse.A problem-solving mindset is an active choice. When we look for solutions we take responsibility for our own recovery. It doesn’t mean it will be any easier, but it does mean that we’ve got a much greater likelihood of success.
- Take solutions out for a trial run.
Just like I talked about objectifying our addiction, we can take a matter-of-fact approach to finding solutions.I can’t tell you how many diets I went on, how many nutritionists I saw, how many exercise programs I started before I committed to changing my life. Each time I’d start a new program I’d psych myself up, convincing myself that this one was the be-all-end-all answer to all my problems.
Yeah, then I’d crash and burn, feeling like a complete and utter failure.
But I wasn’t a failure at all. Those programs simply didn’t work for me. It’s sort of a “square peg, round hole” problem. We just didn’t fit.
No judgment. No shame.
Likewise, not everything you try in recovery will work. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth experimenting.
Take a new idea out for a trial run. Would it work to do all of your shopping on Saturday, your meal prep on Sunday and pack everything up for the week Sunday night? Or maybe that doesn’t allow you enough flexibility.
Perhaps you like to experiment with new recipes or tweak some of your old favorites to fit within your new meal plan structure.
Bring your curiosity and your willingness to fail to this process. Sometimes learning what doesn’t work is just as valuable as learning what does.
Living in active recovery is going to take some time and attention for a while as our new routines become established. If we pack our curiosity along for the ride the journey is bound to be much more pleasant and long-lasting.
More tomorrow. Until then, stay strong.